Friday, September 2, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Gartner, IDC: Windows Phone To Steal Second Place From iOS By 2015

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 09:45 AM PDT


Based on its history, you probably wouldn’t expect to see Windows Phone take off like a rocket. But apparently that’s what it’s going to do. Research out of Gartner and IDC says that Mango may grab a whopping 20 percent of the market by 2015, with the help of hardware partners like HTC and a little extra effort in the marketing department.

Thus far, Windows Phone hasn’t had the best reception. In some ways this is deserved, as many of the big features on the Windows OS were rolled out much later than they were on rival platforms. Even the carriers seemed to discredit WP7 in store — a trend Microsoft was definitely not cool with.

Windows Phone head of marketing Achim Berg said yesterday that IDC and Gartner’s 20 percent market share forecasts are actually conservative (shocker!), and he expects even greater success out of the platform. And the road to such success starts in Europe, with the launch of the HTC Radar and Titan on October 1. Microsoft has hired “hundreds of salesman” to help demonstrate the power of its newly refreshed platform, and plans to target the ladies and the youngsters to nab that 20 percent share.

If you passed elementary math, you know there’s only so much market share to go around. If Windows Phone goes from a 4.3 percent share to control 20 percent of the market, that means another platforms growth is sure to slow. According to Gartner, Apple’s iOS will be the one to do so, growing from a 16 percent market share in 2010 to just 17 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, Android is poised to maintain control with growth from a 23 percent share in 2010 to a massive 49 percent in 2015, reports Bloomberg.

What will make or break windows will be its app selection. HP’s decision to halt production of webOS devices will likely help with that, as a fresh batch of developers have just been abandoned. Still it’s got a long way to go to match the 425,000+ App Store apps that made the iPhone what it is today.

Past that, hardware is also key here. Microsoft will have the support of big name hardware vendors like HTC and Nokia, along with Acer, Fujitsu and ZTE. That same divide and conquer strategy has obviously worked splendidly for Android, and with the promise we’re seeing out of Mango, WinPho is sure to do the same. Since iOS appears on only one phone — an incredibly popular phone, but one nontheless — it’s at a significant disadvantage going forward.

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13/3/1986, NASDAQ:MSFT

Microsoft, founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, is a veteran software company, best known for its Microsoft Windows operating system and the Microsoft Office suite of...

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PhotoAppLink Ties iPhone Photo Apps Together, Makes Multi-App Editing Simple

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 09:31 AM PDT


Several iPhone app developers have teamed up to launch PhotoAppLink, a new open source initiative that aims to simplify photo editing by tying multiple photo-editing apps together.

As you know, there are an incredible number of photo editing apps in iTunes today, and often, each especially excels in one particular area. For example, converting photos to black and white, cropping, compositing or writing on top of photos are all features of popular standalone apps.

But what about when you want to make multiple edits using multiple apps? That’s a far more complicated process. And it’s the very problem PhotoAppLink aims to solve.

Currently, in order to edit your photo in multiple apps, you have to save the edited photo to the camera roll each time as you move in between applications. But with PhotoAppLink-enabled apps, you can simply select another app to use from within your current app. From the PhotoAppLink interface, you tap the app you want to move to and it’s launched for you, photo edits intact.

You can move back and forth between photo-editing apps, too, as you continue to work with your image.

In order for this feature to work, a group of photo app developers got together and agreed to implement PhotoAppLink within their apps. Originally conceived by app development shops PocketPixels and CodeCrop, the feature is now live in Snap!, Color Splash, Simply B&W, PicTools, AutoStitch, TrueHDR, Juxtaposer, Click! and Photogene.

Several notable developers have already committed to adding PhotoAppLink support in forthcoming updates, as well. Confirmed apps include: PaperCamera, PhotoToaster, ColorBlast!, Color Range and MobileMonet.

Other interested developers can choose to participate in the initiative  by grabbing the source library here on GitHub.

Besides making it easy on end users to hop between apps (certainly a pain point for photo enthusiasts), the new feature will have the added benefit of increasing the opportunities for discovery through other, compatible applications. To this end, PhotoAppLink also includes a commissions program for developers, which pays out a percentage of the sale for new apps discovered and purchased through the PhotoAppLink interface.

In addition to ease of use for end users and discovery for app developers, a third benefit is the feature’s potential for increasing user engagement within niche applications. For simplicity’s sake, users may have previously skipped using the better-functioning app in favor of a more basic “all-in-one” to avoid hassle. But by daisy-chaining apps together like this, it’s easier to use the best app for the job, while still saving time.

You can see all the supported apps where PhotoAppLink can be found on the project’s homepage here:

Barnes And Noble Preparing Nook Color 2 For September Launch?

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 08:44 AM PDT

Image (5) nookcolor.jpg for post 209221

Barnes and Noble’s Nook Color eReader is a fan favorite, not only because it’s great for reading, but also because with a little hackery it becomes a surprisingly decent Android tablet. A new report from Taiwan today indicates that Barnes and Noble has a sequel in the works, and that it could hit stores shelves as early as this month, potentially before Amazon’s own big unveiling.

Details about the new reader are sparse, but Digitimes reports that it retain the original’s 7-inch screen size. Hardware vendors are already lined up and ready to ship components: TPK Holdings is reportedly responsible for for supplying the device’s touch panels, while Inventec will handle the assembly process.

Interestingly, Digitimes also fingers E Ink as providing e-paper backplates for the Nook Color 2, which seems highly suspect. It may well be among the first mass-market devices to offer a color e-paper display, but it seems doubtful if only for one reason: it would probably kill the Nook Color 2′s tablet potential.

Getting your choice of custom Android ROM onto a Nook Color is fairly trivial these days, and has certainly driven Nook Color purchases among the geekier crowd. They become infinitely more useful in the process — my favorite Korean restaurant uses one as a menu for first-timers — and a color e-paper display could put that all at risk. Battery life among other things would probably improve, but it could otherwise stymie certain owners of the original from buying a new model.

For now, the true nature of the Nook Color 2′s display (and the rest of its specs) will remain a mystery, but hopefully it won’t be long before it makes its official debut.

Nike Apologizes For Nike+ Issues, Promises Fixes, New Platform Soon

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 08:37 AM PDT


Jayme Martin, VP and GM of Nike Running, has emailed a letter to Nike+ users, apologizing for the platform’s performance over the past few months. He says that Nike is aware of a number of issues that have been affecting its users, including problems logging in, syncing devices, sharing runs and editing profiles.

“Just like you, we hold ourselves to incredibly high standards,” writes Martin, “and right now Nike+ isn’t living up to them.”

The letter also revealed Nike’s plans for a new Nike Plus platform that will resolve these issues as well as add more features.

Nike+ is a comprehensive sensor-assisted platform for runners, which uses an accelerometer either strapped to the body in a watch, band or other gadget. It can also use the iPhone’s accelerometer in combination with an app which adds GPS details to the data it collects. With Nike+, runners can record the details of a run, including how fast they went, how far they ran, how long the run was, how many calories were burned and more.

However, for the past several months, the Nike+ platform has been experiencing problems. Not all users have been affected, notes Martin, but clearly enough were to require this emailed apology.

You can see some of the examples of the examples of the types of login and syncing issues users were experiencing here on Nike Running’s Facebook page, plus here, here and here (check the comments), for starters. And some of these go back further than just “a few months.”

“Wow, this is embarrassing,” the Nike Running rep wrote on Facebook around three months ago. In fact, they even admitted that the Nike+ page wasn’t fully compatible with IE9, a browser that went public in mid-March, but had been available in developer previews starting in March 2010. Embarrassing, indeed.

And I’m sure it has nothing to do with the Flash-based monstrosity that is the Nike+ website.

Nike says that it has now resolved the issues related to the slow logins and login failures and has improved the ability to sync devices, log runs and post that information to Facebook. An updated version of the Nike+ GPS app (iTunes link) is arriving soon, too.

In addition, Nike is promising a completely revamped Nike+ platform that will include better coaching, maps and challenges. The new platform will be “faster, more social and easier to use” and will launch alongside some other “really exciting new products and services.” No word on what those are just yet, but as a former (OK, occasional) Nike+ user myself, I’m holding out for an HTML5 site before I return.

The full letter is below:

Dear Nike+ Member,

It’s been a tough couple months for Nike+. We know from the feedback that there have been a number of issues, including logging in, syncing devices, sharing runs and editing profiles. Not everyone has been affected, but if you have experienced any of those problems, I’m genuinely sorry. Running is supposed to be pure, simple and uncomplicated. And Nike+ is supposed to enhance it, not make it more complex.

Just like you, we hold ourselves to incredibly high standards, and right now Nike+ isn’t living up to them. There are lots of reasons why these problems began, but this letter isn’t about the excuses. This letter is about what we are doing to fix them and what’s coming next.

As of today we have increased login speed and eliminated a majority of login failures. We have improved your ability to sync devices, log runs and post information to Facebook. We are also working on a new version of the Nike+ GPS app that will be released shortly. It will introduce some great new features and address some of the recent bugs.

Things are better but we aren’t done yet. We’re working on a brand new platform for Nike+ that includes better coaching, maps and challenges. It will be much faster, more social, and easier to use, providing more information and analysis of your runs. Also in the works are some really exciting new products and services. We are committed to relentlessly improving and innovating to ensure that, just like you, Nike+ is never standing still.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you have any thoughts or questions please email us or go to our Facebook page and we’ll get back to you.

Thanks for your patience. We really appreciate you being a part of the Nike+ family. There are great things to come.

Jayme Martin

VP/GM NIKE Running

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Nike, Inc. designs, develops, and markets footwear, apparel, equipment, and accessory products worldwide. The company offers various categories of shoes, including running, training, basketball, soccer, sport-inspired urban shoes, and...

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ShiftPlanning Secures Seed To Move Work Schedules To The Cloud

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 08:09 AM PDT


Most businesses still use pen and paper or spreadsheets to manage employee work schedules, which is way too old fashioned these days. Shiftplanning literally shifts that process into a web application, thus aiming to disrupt a significant part of the enterprise software sector.

The startup has now secured a significant amount of seed financing from Germany-based based serial investor Christoph Janz, Reas Kondraschow and other private investors. Terms are undisclosed by sources say it came in at just under $500,000.

Janz has a history of in investing in other SaaS investments such as Zendesk, FreeAgent Central, Clio and Vend. The other investors were Hugo Bonjean, entrepreneur, and Radek Burkat, founder and CEO of PinkBike.

Founded in 2009 by Ryan Fyfe, Shiftplanning says it has hundreds of customers in 20 countries globally, including franchises of Days Inn, T-Mobile and Subway. It claims it can save 50-80% of the time and money previously spent on work scheduling. It also means employees can view their individual work schedules from a browser.

The startup competes with BetterPlan, MySchedule and OnShift.

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ShiftPlanning provides free online employee scheduling tools to businesses in all sectors. ShiftPlanning is free to use, and is backed with around-the-clock support. The idea behind ShiftPlanning arose after entrepreneur...

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Christoph is a co-founder of Pageflakes and has more than ten years of experience in designing software applications and Internet services for consumers. Back in 1997, Christoph co-founded German...

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AT&T Working On “Two-Track Plan” To Address T-Mobile Merger Concerns

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 07:53 AM PDT


In spite of the antitrust lawsuit recent filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, AT&T has been hard at work to make sure their pending T-Mobile acquisition doesn’t fall apart. Sources close to the situation say that AT&T is reportedly working on a “two-track plan” to address the DoJ’s concerns and make sure the merger goes through.

While Reuters can’t confirm with certainty the specifics of the plan, AT&T is said to be preparing itself to make concessions in an effort assuage federal fears that the merger will reduce competition and raise wireless costs. Among the concessions on the table are the sale of T-Mobile’s assets and the possible retention of T-Mobile’s value-oriented rate plans.

While some sources say that AT&T is feeling confident about their new solution, other say that in order to make the deal work, AT&T may have to sell nearly 25% of T-Mobile’s network and customer base. That’s assuming they can wrangle up some buyers: while their regional assets will likely be snapped up fairly quickly by smaller carriers looking to grow out their coverage, their national assets have fewer potential buyers.

Sprint and Verizon are the two main possibilities, but don’t expect it to happen anytime soon, as an acquisition like that could spark antitrust investigations of its own. Sprint was reportedly in talks with Deutsche Telekom about their own potential T-Mobile merger earlier this year, but even if they went for T-Mobile’s assets, the risk may not be worth the reduced payout.

Speaking of payouts, AT&T would have to shell out $6 billion in compensatory fees to T-Mo’s parent company Deutsche Telekom if the deal falls through. There’s a lot on the line here for AT&T, and while they seem fairly sure in their approach, the Department of Justice may soon let the air out of their tires… again.

Simple Energy And San Diego Gas & Electric Team Up To Encourage Conservation Through Gaming

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 07:34 AM PDT


2011 Boulder TechStars graduate Simple Energy is teaming up with San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) to help the utility engage its customers in energy conservation efforts.

To accomplish this, Simple Energy is running an energy saver contest that offers a social gaming experience with real-world rewards.

The contest is in collaboration with the White House's recent smart grid announcement, which detailed a number of new initiatives meant to accelerate the modernization of the U.S.’s electric grid through the use of smart grid technologies.

In the case of the Simple Energy contest called “Biggest Energy Saver,” the idea is to make energy saving a fun game where customers compete against their neighbors to waste less, and subsequently lower their electric bills.

Using data from the home’s smart meter, SDG&E will measure year-over-year energy consumption (kWh) of the participants for three months. Customers can “compete” by making changes to their home, like weatherizing doors and windows, sealing air leaks, adjusting thermostats, switching to energy-saving lightbulbs and more.

Participants are also encouraged to visit, where they can join with others in an online community to talk about smart meters and how to use smart technology to reduce their electricity consumption, control their electric costs, and help the environment.

The contest is sponsored by GRID 21, a new non-profit organization committed to engaging electricity customers in reducing consumption. During the course of the 3-month challenge, daily top savers are entered into drawings for $25 gift certificates to local stores, monthly savers can win an iPad 2 and the “Biggest Energy Saver” of them all wins a gaming laptop worth $1,500.

It does seem to be a bit odd that the energy saving contest awards energy-gobbling gadgets as prizes instead of something like discounts on new insulation or weather strips, for example. However, those awards clearly reflect the desire of today’s electricity-using households to fill their homes with more and more devices, which, in aggregate, help put a strain on the grid.

Teaching the early adopters of smart meters, who are also likely to be the gadget-obsessed top power consumers, how to better save energy may not be such a bad idea.

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Simple Energy is changing how millions of people save energy by revolutionizing how utilities engage their customers. Simple Energy leverages years of experience in the energy industry and combine...

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Samsung CEO, “We Don’t Want HP’s Garbage” — Or Something Like That

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 07:08 AM PDT


The future of webOS is a little less uncertain now that Samsung’s CEO, Choi Gee Sung, grabbed rumors of buying HP’s webOS business by the cuff, laughed in its face and then coldly stabbed the rumor in the heart.

Choi, in response to a report’s question about the recent analyst report, stated, "It's not right that acquiring an operating system is becoming a fashion,” and that Samsung would “never” pursue such a deal.

After HP announced it was getting out of the webOS hardware game, several analyst released reports indicating that several key players were interested in picking up the fallen OS. These reports put Samsung as the main buyer, but that’s clearly not the case. Besides, while HP killed its webOS hardware division, the company isn’t abandoning software development — yet. In fact if HP spins off its PC business, this newly created company could revive the TouchPad along with other webOS hardware devices.

Samsung is instead focusing on building out its Bada OS, which many of our commenters pointed out in our original post on the subject. The company just rolled out three new Bada handsets this week, including one with NFC capability. CEO Choi essentially reaffirmed that Android and Bada is Samsung’s future, not buying a second-hand OS.

But with Samsung out of the picture, if HP was looking to off-load webOS, there are not many companies left to run with Palm’s fallen banner. HTC is firmly entrenched with Android, RIM is developing its next generation of BlackBerry smartphones around the QNX platform, Motorola will soon be owned by Google, and Nokia has lucrative deal with Microsoft. Who’s left? Maybe Tiger Electronics will buy webOS and remake the portable. I’d buy it.

Report: Intel To Kill MeeGo Development “Temporarily”

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 07:08 AM PDT


It’s a tough environment out there for an OS. But a few have risen to the top of the food chain — most obviously iOS and Android. And at the very bottom, like an orphaned and endangered baby buffalo, sits MeeGo.

Nokia has already fled from the burning platform, but now its only remaining parent, Intel, has reportedly decided to temporarily discontinue development of MeeGo. But for a platform with barely any traction and a comparatively weak portfolio of devices, temporarily could very quickly turn into forever.

And so the slow death of MeeGo begins.

Digitimes’ sources say that Intel will instead primarily focus on hardware, and plans to pair its products with either Windows Phone 7 or Android next year. Of course, Intel refused to comment with the standard “we don’t comment on industry speculation or rumors.” But Intel did say that “it remains committed to MeeGo and will continue to work with the community to develop and help meet the needs of customers and end users with open source.”

It seems odd that Intel would “not comment on speculation,” only to deny the rumors in the same breath. As far as platforms go, MeeGo is actually a surprisingly smart little OS and may still have a little life in it yet. But if Intel let’s it sit idle, “temporarily” or otherwise, it’ll be dead and buried before you know it.

A little under a year after MeeGo launched, Intel promised it was “not blinking on MeeGo,” despite the fact that partner Nokia had become distracted. Still, we sort of saw this coming. Intel doesn’t necessarily need MeeGo, as Android and Windows Phone are already supported by the company.

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Intel is best known for producing the microprocessors found in many personal computers. The company also makes a range of other hardware including network cards, motherboards, and graphics chips....

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31/12/1960, NYSE:NOK

Nokia is a Finnish multinational communications corporation. It is primarily engaged in the manufacturing of mobile devices and in converging Internet and communications industries. They make a wide range...

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Newly Launched IM+ Video Lets You Video Chat With Facebook Friends

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 07:05 AM PDT


SHAPE Services, makers of the popular, cross-platform IM+ mobile instant messaging applications, is today launching its first video chatting app: IM+ Video. The new app, available here on iTunes, lets you video and voice call with your Facebook friends – and not just those using IM+.

The VoIP calls made using IM+ are not restricted to Wi-Fi, as they are with Apple’s own FaceTime video calling feature, but work over Wi-Fi, 3G or Edge. In addition, the calls can be received by friends browsing the Facebook website, including those who aren’t using the IM+ application.

After installing the app, you have to authenticate using Facebook Connect, which then brings you to a screen showing a list of your Facebook friends, both online and offline. To place a call or start a chat session, just tap your friend’s name in the list, then tap “call” or “chat.”

If the friend is an IM+ user and is on mobile, a push notification is sent to initiate the video call. Otherwise, IM+ uses Facebook chat to send a link to an IM+ Video “webphone” (an online video calling interface).

IM+ also offers a few different themes to customize the look of the application, but none are really all that attractive. Even the default interface itself is pretty bland and basic.

But the app is offering something that Facebook itself hasn’t gotten around to yet, despite its Skype integration: support for video calling within its own Facebook-branded mobile application called Facebook Messenger. Although code found within this app seems to suggest that video chat is coming soon, it hasn’t arrived yet, which gives third parties like IM+ time to establish a user base.

The IM+ Video app is free, and calls within the app are free. There are no ads or in-app upgrades offered either. Perhaps IM+ Video is starting off free so as to introduce users to other apps within the IM+ family, some of which are monetized either as premium downloads or through in-app purchases? Maybe. But according to SHAPE’s CEO Igor Berezovsky, decisions on how to monetize the new app are still forthcoming.

An Android version of the app is also now in development, we’re told.

Today’s video calling application was made possible thanks to SHAPE Services’ July acquisition of Hong Kong-based CrispApp, makers of the fone app, another a video-chatting application for iOS devices.

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SHAPE Services is the company behind IM+. Without any venture investments, started in 2002 from ground, SHAPE has grown to a highly profitable multimillion company with 50+ great shapers...

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New London Apple Store Big Enough To… Block Out The Sun?

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 06:47 AM PDT


Apple bas been accused of a lot of things. Being too secretive. Pandering to an obsessive fan base. But until now it’s never been accused of blocking out the sun.

That at least is the complaint of local residents close to a planned new Apple store in central London, who claim the store will rob them of their access to the sky. For those of you unacquainted with ancient English laws, this can actually be a legal planning objection to new buildings.

The City of London owns the land in London’s financial district, where currently there is no Apple store, but plenty of iPhone-toting City workers. It’s asking for approval to override laws regarding blocking sunlight to get the Apple store through the planning stage and in to reality.

Reuters reports that the planning application covers with a proposed 10-storey development 87,000 square feet of offices and 13,000 square feet of retail – plenty of space for a big Apple store. U.S. developer Hines is in talks to buy the site for under £25 million.

In a report to its own transport and policy committees the City of London argues the building will bring economic benefits to the area.

It neglects to mention that this is the wealthiest area of the whole of London, so a bit of extra cash is not going to make that much difference…

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Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer,...

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Accel Partners’ Jim Breyer Slated To Join News Corp Board, Perkins To Exit

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 06:32 AM PDT


Jim Breyer, a partner of venture capital firm Accel Partners, has been nominated for election to the board of directors of media conglomerate News Corporation, the company announced this morning.

Breyer will stand for election at News Corp’s annual meeting of stockholders on October 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The company also said that directors Kenneth E. Cowley and Thomas J. Perkins – yes, that would be the founding partner of VC firm and Accel Partners rival Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers – will step down from the board afterwards.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corporation, commented on Breyer’s nomination thusly:

"Jim has a remarkable track record in the investment community and his background in media and technology will enable him to make significant contributions to News Corporation's Board."

Breyer is a lead investor/director in companies like Facebook, UberMedia, Brightcove, Prosper, Vostu, Legendary Pictures and Etsy. He also sits on the boards of directors of Wal-Mart and Dell.

In April 2011, Forbes published its Midas List of top ten investors and ranked Breyer el numero uno.

His high-profile role at Facebook deserves to be put in the spotlight here, because News Corporation famously acquired once-rival MySpace for $580 million in 2005, only to sell it a few months ago for a reported $35 million.

News Corp is, of course, a massive, diversified and global media company, with operations in a plethora of business segments, including filmed entertainment, television, cable network programming, newspapers, magazines and book publishing.

Jim has been an investor in over thirty consumer internet, media, and technology companies that have completed public offerings or successful mergers. Some of these include Actuate, Agile Software,...

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News Corp is the world’s largest media conglomerate company. News Corporation is a diversified global media company with operations in eight industry segments: filmed entertainment; television; cable network programming; direct...

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Bright 3D Drive: Epson Introduces World’s First HTPS-TFT 3D Panel

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 06:31 AM PDT


Epson has been working on HTPS (high-temperature polysilicon)-based TFT panels for years now, and yesterday the company announced the launch of the world’s first such panel for 3D 3LCD projectors. There will be two models, one measuring 0.74 inches (pictured) and another one with 0.61 inches, both will full HD resolution.

According to Epson, the new devices use a technology called “Bright 3D Drive” that helped to boost the image refresh rate from 240Hz to 480Hz. As a result, 3D pictures produced by the new panels are said to be 1.5 times brighter than those created by 240Hz models.

Epson has already started mass-producing their HTPS 3D panels and will offer them to other projector makers, too.

Woot Offers TouchPad Buyers Star Wars Jokes And Partial Refund

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 06:27 AM PDT


Before the TouchPad dove head first into the bargain bin, HP tried a little pricing experiment. Early in August, they dropped the TouchPad’s price by $50, and very shortly after, the discount was bumped up to $100.

It was a sweet deal, but in retrospect, some buyers may not be too happy with pulling the trigger when they did. Woot sold the TouchPad for $379, but they reportedly feel like “scruffy nerf herders” about it and are offering buyers a $100 partial credit and an email laden with Star Wars jokes.

Slashgear was sent a copy of the email, and it states that people who bought Woot TouchPads and like them enough to keep them should have already seen the credit post to their account. Even so, affected users may want to fire up their banking website of choice just to check. If the whole price drop situation just has you seeing red, don’t fret: after a quick email to Woot’s support line, you’ll be able to return the thing for a full refund.

Alternately, at Woot’s suggestion, you could “dress up as a palace guard, sneak into some alien crime lord’s fortress, and put some mystic revenge plan into motion.” Best of luck if you go that route.

Woot is personally one of my favorite online retailers in general, and stuff like this just seals the deal: they didn’t have to do a thing, but they’re reaching out to customers and taking the hit on returns and credits just to make sure those people stick around. I only wish they’d get their Star Wars references straight: those pigfaced trolls on Cloud City were called Ugnaughts, and Lobot wasn’t a droid but a guy with electronic earmuffs.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, Galaxy Note Not Launching In The US? Ever?

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 06:03 AM PDT


Sigh. Samsung is apparently not planning on launching two of its latest tablets in the states. This comes right from an IFA Samsung rep who stated there are no plans on bringing the tablets to the kind citizens of the US of A. Of course this rep might not be in the know, but most of the time these flacks abstain from using absolute statements, instead using their fancy marketing circle talk. But this rep shoot nearly all hope.

The two tablets in question here, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and the Galaxy Note, were some of the biggest hits at IFA this year. They both sport beautiful AMOLED screens in slender, size-appropriate casings. The 7.7 is a fine update from the original Galaxy Tab, which also debuted at German’s IFA show back in 2010. The Note then takes up the banner dropped by the canceled Dell Streak 5 but comes supercharged with an active digitizer stylus.

It’s not without precedent that a manufacturer will sell different models in different regions. This move by Samsung, if it’s actually true, could be a response to its European legal dealings with Apple. If Sammy can’t sell the GalTab 10.1 then they’re going to hit the market with a volley of unconventional tablets. In fact instead of going head-to-head with the iPad, Samsung should have employed this tactic from the get-go and hit the market with, if you will, anti-iPads that offer different use-cases through smaller form factors.

This leaves US buyers in the dark, though. Sprint, Verizon and AT&T still sells the original 7-inch Android 2.x Galaxy Tab and the newish 10.1 iPad clone. The US market is getting the just-announced 8.9-inch Galaxy Tab in both 3G and WiFi flavors. Perhaps the kingpins at Samsung thought any more than three models would confuse the average American shopper although most tech pundits assumed the new GalTab 7.7 would replace the very old 7-inch model. Oh well, that doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen. But, as is with everything Android, another manufacturer will likely out nearly identical models including a smaller tablet like the Samsung Note and launch here in the States while Samsung is testing the waters in Europe.

Evul Todai: A Relaxation Lighthouse Lamp For The Living Room

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 06:02 AM PDT


Lighting gadgets and accessories are a dime a dozen, but the so-called Evul Todai from Japan manages to stand out. The device is designed like a Japanese-style lighthouse and behaves like it, too: while the top part glows, the middle part rotates to project one out of a total of 15 patterns (in one of 5 colors) throughout the room.

The Evul Todai uses a heat convection turning system for the photo lens, and because there is no motor, the device doesn’t produce any annoying sounds when it rotates (the turning intervals are adjustable between 4 and 22 seconds).

Users can also drop their favorite essential oils into the hollow on the top of lamp, which the device then slowly burns off over time (no flame needed).

Each Evul Todai is manufactured in Japan, in parts by a “third-generation potter “(see below), and comes packaged in a high-quality box – which is probably why it’s being marketed as a “premium relaxation light".

The lighthouse lamp is Japan-only, but available for everyone living outside this country through specialized site Japan Trend Shop for $239 (they’ll ship it anywhere).

Here’s a short demo video:

Business Objects Vets Raise $6 Million For Business Analytics Software Startup Visier

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 05:29 AM PDT


Visier, which builds ‘analytic applications for human resources’, has raised $6 million in funding according to an SEC filing published this morning. It’s the startup’s first institutional venture funding round since its inception in 2010.

Notably, Visier was co-founded by ex-Business Objectives chief and SAP exec John Schwarz (CEO) and Ryan Wong (CTO), who held senior engineering roles at Business Objects and, after their acquisition by SAP, was the VP of Engineering for the SAP Business Objects BI platform and tools.

Furthermore, former SAP SVP Dave Weisbeck (CSO) is also part of Visier’s management team.

Basically, Visier’s mission is to help companies identify important insights about their business and deliver them to human resources decision makers in an enjoyable way using nifty visualization techniques (see video below to get an idea).

Visier describes it as building ‘analytic applications for people’ on its website.

The business analytics startup invites companies to sign up for a free demo.

We’ve contacted Visier to see which investors are backing the fledgling company.

Launch Date:

At Visier we build analytic applications for human resources. Complete, end-to-end solutions are hosted on-demand and deployed in days. Unlike traditional business intelligence which aims to provide powerful tools for...

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Sharp Shows 70-Inch Aquos Quattron LCD 3D TV With “Mega-Brightness” Panel

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 04:37 AM PDT


Sharp Japan announced [JP] the Aquos Quattron 3D LC-70X5 for the local market yesterday, a follow-up of sorts to the LC-70LE735U that’s been available in the States for a few months now. Just like that model, the LCD measures 70 inches, can produce 3D pictures and offers Sharp’s “Quattron Quad Pixel Technology” for better display of colors.

The main selling point of this new model is the full array LED back-light that Sharp markets as “Mega Brightness Technology”. According to the company, the backlighting in the LC-70X5 is twice as strong as in the previous model, obviously resulting in brighter pictures (see below for an example).

The TV features full HD resolution, THX 3D, 15,000,000:1, dynamic contrast ratio, two USB ports, four HDMI ports, Ethernet, web connectivity (VOD), wireless to connectivity to other Aquos devices like smartphones and Blu-ray recorders, recording on external HDDs, and 176-degree viewing angle.

Sharp plans to start selling the device in Japan on September 25 (price: US$10,400).

Patent Troll WiLAN Targets Apple, HP, HTC, Dell And Others In Yet Another Suit

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 03:59 AM PDT


Self-proclaimed “technology innovation and licensing company” WiLAN, billed as a notorious patent troll by most anyone else (and often, much worse), this morning announced that it has initiated litigation against Apple, Dell, HP, HTC, Kyocera, Alcatel-Lucent, Novatel and Sierra Wireless America.

In its filing, WiLAN claims that these companies are infringing two U.S. patents, namely No. RE37,802 (related to CDMA and HSPA technology) and No. 5,282,222 (related to Wi-Fi and LTE).

In an extraordinary twist, but actually the complete opposite of that, litigation was commenced in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, which is known to favor plaintiffs and for its general expertise in patent-related lawsuits.

The extremely litigious company will once more be represented in this action by Texas-based McKool Smith, which specializes in IP litigation (see: i4i v. Microsoft and Versata v. SAP).

Last year, WiLAN made headlines here on TechCrunch already by suing just about every portable devices vendor over a patent related to Bluetooth technology – defendants included Apple, Sony, Toshiba, Dell, LG, Intel, Texas Instruments, Acer and Motorola.

Last week, the company launched a hostile takeover bid for fellow patent troll MOSAID, stating an intention to make an all-cash offer to acquire all the outstanding common shares of its patent-licensing rival for approximately C$480 million (roughly $491 million).

Ottawa-based WiLAN has about 800 patents, covering mostly wireless tech, while MOSAID has a larger patent portfolio of 2,822 patents and applications covering semiconductor and telecommunications technologies. Just yesterday, MOSAID announced that it has acquired 2,000+ Nokia patents, expanding its portfolio even more.

Guess what will happen when that merger – currently under review – actually happens? Shudder.

Updated: the complaint, embedded below:

Launch Date:

WiLAN was founded in 1992 to commercialize technology inventions that made low-cost, high-speed wireless networking a reality. Used in several generations of proprietary products manufactured by WiLAN and...

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Cloud App Delivery Software Maker Graphon Secures $7.1M In Equity Financing

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 03:36 AM PDT


GraphOn, a developer of cloud application delivery solutions, this morning announced that it has secured $7.1 million in equity financing in a private placement to a group of investors, employing intellectual property investment bank MDB Capital Group as its sole agent. GraphOn sold 35.5 million shares of its common stock at $0.20 per share.

GraphOn also issued five year warrants to the investors for an additional 17.75 million shares of common stock with an exercise price of $0.26 per share, a 30 percent premium to the sale price of the common stock in the transaction.

Founded in 1996, GraphOn Corporation is a publicly traded company headquartered in Santa Cruz, California.

The company offers solutions that enable customers to access applications from a multitude of devices from basically anywhere. Its flagship product is GO-Global, a cloud application delivery and Web-enabling solution that helps customers like AT&T, Warner Music Group and Alcatel-Lucent to extend the reach of their Windows, UNIX and Linux applications to a corporate network or the Web.

Most recently, GraphOn announced a private label service for its GO-Global iPad Client, providing software vendors and application service providers with a quick way to create an iPad
app that makes their Windows applications fully accessible to iPad users.

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